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Interview With Perfumer Sonia Constant

The first fragrance Sonia Constant created was the little-known s.Oliver Sports 1 Female in 2006. Since then the versatile French perfumer has notched up an impressive list of creations for designer, niche and celebrity brands, including:

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  • Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Tiare Mimosa EDT (2009)
  • Les Liquides Imaginaires Fortis EDP (2011)
  • Montblanc Emblem EDT (2014)
  • Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Yellow EDT (2015)
  • Coach The Fragrance EDT (2016)
  • Tom Ford Ombré Leather 16 EDP (2016)
  • Mugler Cologne Fly Away (2018)
  • Jean Paul Gaultier La Belle EDP (2019)

In 2018, she took a bold risk to launch her own fragrance range, Ella K Parfums, to provide an outlet for her abundant creativity. This isn’t always possible within the confines of producing fragrances that meet brand requirements.

Narciso Rodriguez Pure Musc For Her EDP, her latest fragrance for the Cuban-American fashion designer, was launched in 2019. Featuring her deft touch, it’s already a commercial (and critical) success.

Constant took time out of her busy schedule juggling work for Givuadan and her own company to chat about inspiration and the creation of Pure Musc For Her.

Sonia Constant Interview

You’re a prolific creator. How do you make sure that you remain inspired?

My creations need to be recognisable – this is the first criteria to ensure I remain inspired. I have so much daily inspiration, but the most difficult part is to transform an accord into a perfume without losing the identity of the first idea.

Fernweh Editions Fern & Petals Candle

Working on autopilot is not good for creation, so I practice meditation three to four times a week to connect with the profound self. It helps clear my mind and gives space for new ideas.

What do you want your creations to do?

To provoke emotion and to leave an unforgettable trail. I am so happy when people tell me that Pure Musc For Her has an amazing trail. I’m always fighting against homogenisation, which is why I didn’t want to use any gourmand or fruity notes in this fragrance.

What was the brief for Pure Musc for Her?

To create a musky fragrance, keeping in mind the heart of musk that’s dear to Mr Narciso Rodriguez, and to push it to its maximum.

Were there any challenges in meeting this brief?

It seems simple, but in reality musks are bottom notes and it is difficult to give strength to them. It’s not simply a case of multiplying the heart of musk by three – it is much more complex and technical than that.

When I was at the perfumery school at Givaudan, I wanted to create a fragrance only composed of musks. But they need other facets and contrasts like floral and/or woody notes, such as in Pure Musc For Her, to be at their best.

I wasn’t able to achieve this when I was a junior perfumer. I acquired the necessary techniques over the last 20 years to realise this fragrance.

I also had other constraints in this project: Create it in a Narciso Rodriguez way and in a more modern way than For Her. And the fragrance had to be able to be layered with the other fragrances in the line.

Why do you enjoy working with musk?

I love musks because they stay on your skin and clothes. As they are the raw material that mix the best with the skin, they are like a second skin that easily becomes a part of you. I find them sensual and addictive.

All Narciso Rodriguez fragrances have a strongly recognisable musk DNA. Creating Pure Musc For Her in a landscape full of fruity/gourmand fragrances is a real risk and I love people who take risks.

You’ve created a number of fragrances for Narciso Rodriguez, including Fleur Musc For Her EDP and Rouge EDT/EDP. What’s it like working with Mr Rodriguez? How involved is he in the creation of the fragrances?

It is an absolute honour to work for him. Mr. Rodriguez decides which fragrance we are going to rework (at the beginning I propose different fragrances). There’s a team at Shiseido [the Japanese company that has the licenses for Narciso Rodriguez, Dolce & Gabbana, and Issey Miyake fragrances] who I am in direct contact with every week, but he approves the fragrance at the different stages of its development. Of course, he also approves the last trial – the one that goes in the bottle.

Formulas are very important in perfumery. How would you describe your formulas?

I try my best to write short formulas and to be sure that each ingredient has a role.

How long did it take you to create this fragrance? 

Almost a year.

Have you read Pure Musc for Her reviews? Do they matter to you?

I read some of them, but I am not obsessed with what people think.

What would fans of your creations be surprised to know about you?

I am very clumsy. And I have no sense of direction, which is a bit funny for a woman traveler.

Interview With Perfumer Sonia Constant

Richard Goller is a fragrance and grooming blogger. His blog is called Fragroom. A senior editor with 20 years' experience, his blog allows him to combine two of his passions: engaging content and the always-intriguing world of fragrances. When he isn't blogging, you'll find Richard indulging in his newly found passion for balcony gardening.